By Thierry Evanno, Site Director of Lannion, Public Affairs France, Alcatel-Lucent
On July 10, 2012 Bell Labs has celebrated Telstar launch. On July 12, 2012 it was also the 50th anniversary of the first live TV broadcast by satellite between the United States and France.
July 11, 1962: the first live TV broadcast by satellite between the United States and Europe has just been established at 00:47 am. This satellite link has been realized thanks to the Andover Earth Station and the CTS (Satellite telecommunication center) at Pleumeur-Bodou in western France near Lannion and thanks to Telstar. Telstar program will be jointly developed by AT&T and Bell Labs. On both side of the Atlantic Ocean two huge horn antennas and their radome allowed the transmission. As Telstar was a common AT&T and Bell Labs project, antenna and radome were built by CGE (Compagnie Générale d’Électricité) ex-Alcatel and current Alcatel-Lucent.
It was the beginning of live TV broadcast and modern telecommunication era for the planet. For the country of Lannion, Britanny, this stage, combined with the presence of the National telecommunication study center (current Orange Labs,) was the starting point of a technological and human adventure which continues today.
July 12, 2012: the 50th anniversary of this major event of the communication has been celebrated under the Radome of Pleumeur–Bodou, the only one remaining which is classified as “Historic Monument” and is part of the “Cité des télécoms” museum. During this event a live satellite transmission has been established between the “Cité de télécoms” in Pleumeur -Bodou and Smithsonian (National Air and Space Museum) at Washington DC I had the great pleasure of living that moment.
This ceremony was the opportunity for all the guests to watch or to watch again the images transmitted in 1962. The evening continued by the commemorative speeches of Wayne Clough (Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution), François Delattre (Ambassador of France in the USA) and Michael Michaud (US Congressman Maine) in the United States as well as those of Christine Albanel (former Minister and president of the foundation Cité of Telecoms), Robert Tate (Consul of the United States in west of France) and Christian Marquet (Mayor of Lannion, representing the Regional council of Brittany).
Then the “Ensemble Matheus” realized another exploit (50 years after that of July, 1962): play various concertos and operas of Vivaldi under the Radome which generated a phenomenal echo.
The technological adventure of the first live TV transmission between the United States and France in 1962 did not certainly augure of the tremendous upheaval and technological evolutions 50 years later. While the 4G is now reality in the United States and is coming in Europe we live more than ever in a connected world and finally the famous “Cloud” is the natural continuity of Telstar (“telephone in stars “). Alcatel-Lucent which is at Lannion is not only a witness of this past adventure but is also directed to the networks of future … See you in 50 years!